Middle schoolers less healthy than younger kids

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Middle schoolers less healthy than younger kids

Middle school students eat more junk food and exercise less than elementary school students, a joint study conducted with 1,084 students in Seoul by the Korea Food and Drug Administration and the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said on Friday.

The study was commissioned by the administration to evaluate current eating habits and health conditions in June and July last year. The study result said that 18.3 percent of middle school students skip breakfast more than five times a week while only 11.7 percent of elementary school students miss it.

Middle school students also eat more junk food than elementary school students, with the survey saying that 22.6 percent of middle school students drink carbonated drinks more than three times a week, 24.9 percent of them eat instant ramen at least three times a week and 22.2 percent of them eat fried food at least three times a week, while elementary school students reached 18.3, 17.7 and 16 percent in the same categories.

Middle school students also exercise less.

The study said that only 45.5 percent of middle school students engage in “intense physical activity” more than three days a week, while 63.1 percent of elementary school students engage in physical activities.

The KFDA said that intense physical activity requires a student to be out of breath or sweating for at least 20 minutes. “Running, soccer, basketball, taekwondo, biking and swimming are satisfactory activities,” Lee Eoo-young, a researcher at the KFDA, told the JoongAng Ilbo.

The study said that middle school students are more engaged in sedentary activities such as watching TV, using the Internet and computer gaming. It said that 16.3 percent of them engage in such activities more than three hours a day while only 6.5 percent of elementary school students do the same thing.

“Elementary school students have less exposure to such foods or habits because they spend more time with their parents than middle school students,” Kang Baek-won, head of nutrition policy at the KFDA, told the JoongAng Ilbo. “But middle school students spend more time outside their home in places like hagwon (private academies). In such circumstances, they eat more junk food.”

By Park Tae-kyun [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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